KICUKIRO - Senator Augustin Iyamuremye yesterday came out to apologise to all those he could not help while their relatives or family members were slain during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, saying he could actually have done something to save them.
Iyamuremye was speaking during the ceremony to mark the end of the 15th annual official commemoration week of the Genocide against the Tutsi, in which over a million people died.
He also took the time to honour politicians who were killed during the Genocide, at the ceremony held yesterday at Rebero Genocide Memorial Site in Kicukiro District.
Iyamuremye was head of the intelligence services of the late former President Juvenal Habyrimana, and was slated to become a Minister in the Broad Based Transitional Government, said that he never participated in the killings or even harboured the hatred against the Tutsi, however, he owns up to not doing anything in his capacity to save those he could have saved.
“I always ask myself, yes, I didn’t kill anybody neither did I spread the message of hate, but the guilt remains. What did I do to stop the Genocide? Maybe I never did enough to save these people, maybe I should have sacrificed my life?” the humbled Senator pondered before he asked for forgiveness.
He also apologised to all those who may have known people who killed their relatives and friends, who in one way or another maybe known or related to him, pleading for their forgiveness.
The aging Senator and Academician who also served in Government after the Genocide narrated his experience to the thousands that had turned up at Rebero site to pay their last respects to the victims laid to rest there among whom lie a dozen political leaders killed for opposing the Genocidal regime.
He recalled that at the time he was serving under the Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and was waiting to be sworn as a Minister, he was in Gisenyi on defence duties
when Habyarimana’s plane was downed.
According to his testimony, he came to learn of Habyarimana’s fate when one Charles Ntazinda came running to Hotel Meridien (Now Kivu Serena) where he was staying at the time and before he knew gun shots could be heard all over Gisenyi and bodies were already littering the streets.
Iyamuremye recalls that a certain Joseph Habiyambere, the former Prefect of Gikongoro with whom they heard serious misunderstandings, called him and read a list of people who had been killed and how himself (Iyamuremye) would not survive, for he had earlier pinned him (Habiyambere) in a report of people masterminding previous killings.
Iyamuremye also recalls how he quickly thought of calling Uwilingiyimana whose life was already in grave danger for opposing President Habyarimana’s Genocide plans but Prime Minister did not pick her phone.
Later he called a neighbours house, Ignatius Magorane, only for the phone to be picked by the wife, who said that Magorane had been killed.
Stranded in Gisenyi, Iyamuremye finally found his way to Kigali but could not do anything to stop the madness that had already gripped the whole country as massacres were taking place all over the country.
He also narrated how Uwilingiyimana was a peace-loving leader who strongly opposed Habyarimana’s plans and instead called for continued talks between RPF and MRND despite Habyarimana’s plan to pullout and carryout the mass massacres.
“I remember Agathe in her interview with the Belgian Newspaper ‘Le Soir’ in 1993 when she was asked about the situation in Rwanda, she went on to say that she was against Habyarimana’s plans,” Iyamuremye noted, quoting her statement.
Uwilingiyimana is one of the slain politicians honoured yesterday at the Rebero site despite not being among those buried there. She was laid to rest at the Remera Heroes Grounds.
He also recalled how Uwilingiyimana survived several attempts on her life, including one by Misago Rutegesha, the Deputy Head of CDR, an extremist party, who wanted to stab her during a meeting.
He noted that on several occasions Habyarimana had attempted to wipe out all politicians who opposed him but they somehow survived, though they could not survive the Genocide and most of these are buried at the Rebero site.
Iyamuremye also condemned the politics of hate, urging politicians today to desist from bad leadership which exclusively plunged the country into an abyss.